One familiar face at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business participated in the graduation exercises last December, on a skateboard, even though he wasn't even a graduate.
Jake Anderson was pulled onto the stage on a skateboard by graduate Jimmy Jones, who was driving an electric-powered wheel chair. By that point, Jake had already been introduced by President Stan Albrecht.
As President Albrecht welcomed people to Utah State University's 118th Commencement exercises, he singled out Jimmy as a graduate, and recognized Jake for the role he had played in helping Jimmy earn his degree.
"Jimmy Jones graduates in business today, but when you see him head across the stage for his degree, you will see him accompanied by his friend Jake Anderson," Albrecht said. "Jake has been working with Jimmy since 2003, driving him from Tremonton every day, going to every class with him, taking notes for him, pushing him across campus during these lovely Cache Valley winters and even scheduling his wedding and honeymoon around Jimmy's school schedule."
The two reversed roles during graduation with Jimmy towing Jake across campus, and even up to the stage where Jimmy was recognized for graduating.
It was the end of the formal part of an unusual relationship. Anderson, who was paid with money through the Division of Services for People with Disabilities, not only helped Jimmy get around, he helped him take notes.
Jimmy said he was long-time friends with Anderson, and that Anderson's help went beyond that an employee would offer.
"He always had a good attitude," Jimmy said. "We always had a lot of fun together up at the college."
Jake said he had been friends with Jimmy since high school.
"It wasn't really a job to me," Jake said. "It was just going and hanging out with Jimmy."
Jimmy said he was paralyzed in a car accident when he was 17, and yet he still calls himself "hopelessly optimistic."
"I've seen people that have it much worse, so that keeps me humble and thankful for what I do have," he said. "But I know if it wasn't for my wreck I wouldn't have accomplished such a feat as graduating college. I never had it in me before my wreck. It's been a blessing."
Jimmy said it was challenging to get his degree.
"College was really hard, but I've beat tougher things," Jimmy said. "And I had it in me to finish it and go through with it."